Credit: Richard Bruton

Being a TD: The job ever fewer capable people want to do

The nature of the Irish political system is such that incumbency is an unusually powerful advantage for a political party, compared to other jurisdictions. In our nearest neighbour, which uses a first-past-the-post electoral system, a long serving MP in a safe seat standing down would mean little more than an opportunity for some young and ambitious member of the same party to take the seat at the next election. The same would be true, for example, of a retiring Republican Senator in Mississippi or a Democrat in Vermont. Seats follow parties, not people.

That is not true in Ireland, and it is why a major retirement like that of Richard Bruton is big news. The one major advantage of our system is that very few TDs can rely on party sympathisers alone to get them elected time and time again – people like Richard Bruton will have built a life time’s worth of personal connections and favours and relationships in his constituency that attract transfers and votes from people who might otherwise never consider a vote for Fine Gael. Consider that in his last election, Richard Bruton secured over 11,000 first preference votes. His Fine Gael running mate, Catherine Noone, got just 2,000. Representing the same party, voters nevertheless plumped for Bruton en masse.

This article is premium content

Get unlimited access to Gript

Support Gript and get exclusive content, full archives and an ad-free experience


Share mdi-share-variant mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-printer mdi-chevron-left Prev Next mdi-chevron-right Related Comments Members can comment by siging in to their account. Non-members can register to comment for free here.
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Do you agree with the Government's plan to reduce speed limits?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...